is the most corrupt country in the world.”
“The UK is the
world’s greatest enabler of corporate tax avoidance and has done
the most to break down the global corporate tax system, accounting
for over a third of the world’s corporate tax avoidance.”
havens allow big companies and wealthy individuals to avoid paying
their fair share of tax. This hurts people in countries where the
taxes should have been paid – often hitting vulnerable people the
hardest. Governments that let this happen, through devious tax rates,
dodgy schemes and opaque processes, are complicit in a system that
makes the rich richer and keeps millions in poverty” Oxfam
Boris Johnson post-Brexit UK government is accelerating all this.
They are working to introduce sweeping tax cuts for corporations and
the rich and favourable tax regimes for multi-nationals, the weakening of
internationsal anti-money laindering measures and the encouragement
of ‘golden visa arrangements’ for international oligarchs.
is taking place at a time when The European Commissioner for Economic
and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs. Pierre Moscovici, has
declared that: “The current rules for corporate taxation no longer
fit the modern context … the tools for ensuring fair tax
competition within the EU have reached their limits’.
EU have begun to introduce new common tax regulations which aim to
prevent the erosion of taxable bases in EU countries.
are not going to mention any of this as they ‘Get Brexit Done.”
birthday gift is a recipe for toasted avocados.
TOASTED AVOCADO for two people
Ingredients: Two avocados, one lemon, chilli flakes, garlic salt, black pepper, olive oil.
Method: Cut the avocados in half and remove stones. Scoop out the flesh into a bowl. Squeeze in the lemon juice and mash with a fork. Season to taste with garlic salt, black pepper and chilli flakes. Toast two slices of bread, drizzle over the oil, pile the avocado on top and serve immediately.
months into Covid-19 lockdown, I think a lot about food and have started writing a new book on :"Food and Memory". Writing this one for you gave me the idea.
So I have BURRITOS which will be what Anne brought me evey day in hospital, LAMB ON THE SPIT, Croatia and Bosnia, PITTA BREAD, memories of Tuvia Gelblum, VICTORIA SPONGE CAKE, visits to art dealer Gustav Delbanco and more to follow. My publishers, Unbound, are interested so I must get on with it!
Each chapter opens with a recipe as does this birthday greeting for you.
Last week’s Oddbox delivery of fruit and veg included four small avocados.
According to the supplier’s leaflet, avocados are packed with
mono-unsaturated fat that is good for the heart. I have no idea what
a mono-unsaturated fat is, but after my heart operation and stroke,
I’m a sucker for anything I’m told that’s good for me.
avocados were hard. To speed the process of ripening, I put them
in the east-facing window to absorb the morning sun. Later, I moved them to the other end of the flat, to place them on the
west-facing window. It was a sunny day so we had avocado
salad that evening.
avocado is a single seed fruit that originated in Mexico. The Aztecs
called it āhuacatl which translates as ‘testicle’. Perhaps that
is because of its texture, shape and size, not to mention that they
hang in pairs.
was the favourite food of 16th century Aztec Emperor, Montezuma II.
He fathered an enormous family with his many wives and concubines, so
perhaps he liked avocados for their supposed aphrodisiac qualities.
It was unlikely to have been their taste which, without a good
dressing, is bitter and earthy, perhaps even testicular.
the John Dos Passos trilogy, USA, he recounts a sea journey
transporting avocados from South America to California. En route his
protagonist went hungry rather than eat the fruit. In Sylvia Plath’s
novel, The Bell Jar, Esther Greenwood can’t stop eating them, not
because she likes the taste, but because their consumption evokes
I have an avocado memory. Do you remember you, me and Maria eating brunch at Rabbithole (I may be wrong about the name) a cafe on Bedford Avenue and a five minute walk from your apartment beside the Williamsburg bridge? I ordered avocado
toast. It was delicious.
have no idea how past generations in our family thought about their
food or what memories they evoked. They won’t have had avocado
memories because they were only introduced to the UK in the late
learn something of their memories from personal mementoes passed down
through the generations. Before photography, and for the rich, it
might have been a Thomas Gainsborough or Joshua Reynolds portrait.
For the middle class a mini-portrait carried around in a locket. For
the rest of us perhaps a piece of hair.
photography came the family album. Your aunts, Liz and Joanna, and I still have some
of these albums.
this digital age we keep photos on our iPhones, although our departed
loved one are still printed out, framed and placed on the bookshelf
alongside those of our living loved ones.
ten years, this NYC photo of you and me is still on my phone. I think
that is the Brooklyn bridge behind us. Was it taken in 2008, the year
Obama was elected President? I'm drinking a bottle of Brooklyn
Pilsner and you, I think, Coke through a straw. Your ‘Papel de
Fumar’ T shirt reminds me of the rollies we smoked together.
you still a smoker? You have been in Spain
for ten years now. Your son is now six. Does he look like you?
Perhaps a mixture of you and Maria.
Does she eat avocados? She's not Aztec, but I think, Mayan. I can't remember whether either of you joined me to eat the avocado toast at that Williamsburg cafe and don’t think she was there when this
photo was taken. I have no photos of my daughter-in-law which is sad. Only one of Rhys.
tend to associate the feeling of grief with death. When a relative or
friend dies we must come to terms with their departure, their ‘not
being’. If religious we may accept their ‘passing’, even envy
their departure, on their journey to heaven, Nirvana, to a further
existence. If not religious, we will come to accept that they are no
longer in this material world. Whatever our beliefs, our grief at
their loss will weaken and diminish with the passing of time.
grief can apply to the living and can be worse than grief for the dead. Our thoughts at the absence of someone who is
still alive, but has removed themselves or been removed from our
lives, cannot be diminished with celestial thoughts, cannot be ‘got
over’ with the passing of time.
have read about people who have lost loved ones to cults, removing
themselves into a parallel universe. An act of disappearance that
leaves the abandoned grieving for their living dead.
doesn’t just apply to cults, but to those who have lost a loved one
to an unstoppable silence.
You may have good reasons for your 'unstoppable silence', but I would like to know what they are. On this day, your 40th birthday, I would also love to hear how life is going for the three of you. I hope all is good and positive.
and I were like brothers. You supported me in the raging battles of
separation and divorce and when you were struggling, at the
time this NYC photo was taken, I helped you.
Your last communication to me, nearly six years ago, acknowledged this when you spoke of your
love for me. “I just wanted to write to you to say that I love you
and also to say that there really isn't an issue between you and me.”
you remember those parties you and your friends organised on Brooklyn rooftops. Swimming in the pool behind your apartment in
New Orleans. After you moved to Barcelona, it was table tennis?
are two tables in our nearby park and, when I walk there, I remember that we played every day in Passeig de
Gràcia and in Park Quell. One eye on the game, the other on your dog
Whitney. Is she still alive?
have birthday and Christmas presents piling up for my grandson, but
have no address to send them to. I buy them anyway and store them in
a cupboard. Maybe when Rhys is twenty he will get the picture
book about dogs and the card with a glittering ‘Two’.
Family and friends have advised me not to send
Christmas or birthday presents to you or Rhys, even if I had your address. That
I should, like you, go to earth. To lead my life to
the full and not let the situation get to me.
But today I cannot let the it pass without at least attempting to reach out to you. To tell you I think of you every day. To let you know that you are my son; that I love you.
hope you are leading your life to the full, but given my age and
precarious medical condition I’m not sure I can act on this advice.
I face a finite limit to acceptance that time is on my side. I cannot
lead my life to the full. You are the missing piece in my life’s
Memory never goes missing and I spend a lot of my time looking at photos which are always there to see. Here you are with Ben. I guess you, here, are at the age Rhys is today.
It is another sunny day and we have had a new vegetable delivery. There are avocados again. They are soft and ready to eat.
I must mix the dressing.
recently watched the BBC4 film about Jewish survivors from the Bergen-Belsen
Nazi concentration camp in northern Germany.
1943 and 1945 52,000 inmates perished there and 20,000 Russian POWs.
It was where Anne Frank died.
heard from Peter Lantos, Zdenka Fatlova, Maurice Blik, Mala Tribich,
Anita Lasker-Walfisch, Geria Turgeb. It seems to me important to name
the few still living since we cannot name the many who died.
camp was liberated by British - Canadian troops and I watched the
film. wondering if I would see my father. He was one of the British
army doctors who arrived there on 15 April 1945. I remember he told
me that thousands died after they arrived, many from typhus, TB and
dysentry, then many more from being fed high calorie rations too
quickly. As a physician, he felt a guilt and responsibility for this
he was an old man I asked him what had happened to the photos he had
kept of the emaciated survivors. He told me that he had thrown them
away. I was shocked because he had documented the reality of fascism,
but knowing the man, perhaps he wanted to remove the memory
altogether. When I was a small boy I used to take them from the
bottom drawer of his his desk, spread them on the floor and stare at
these skeletal humans in horror.
have spent my life affected by those photographs of bones breaking
through parchment skin, eyes bulging from their sockets, a pleading
have never thrown away any of that and have honoured their memory as
an active socialist and anti-racist.
is popular to say ‘Never Again’, but this is just a hope and
genocides have continued in one form or another throughout my life.
To those two words we must add two more that demand our action. Taken
from the fight against fascism in Franco's Spain they are, No
is a condensed version taken from articles I have had published in
recent years. I think it addresses issues which are sadly blocking
the road to a better future – perhaps any future.
recent days US
Pence and Sec of State, Mike Pompeo, have been urging Trump to attack
Iran. Both of them are supported by the Christian-Zionist
movement who can’t wait for a Biblical Armageddon
in the Middle East.
this country we have a Prime Minister who is happy to be the
fourth horseman of the Apocalypse
and many in the Labour Party too
ready to clamber up behind him .
Labour Party will soon
be choosing a new leader and, surprise surprise, accusations of
anti-semitism are once
again being used against those who dare
speak out for the rights
claiming that Jeremy Corbyn scored 0 out of 10 as party leaderEmily
need to get down on our hands and knees to the Jewish community and
ask them for forgiveness and a fresh start.” On
BBC Question time Clive Lewis ‘apologised’ for Labour’s
party leader contender, Rebecca
Long-Bailey better be among the first to get
on her knees and ask forgiveness
Labour deputy leader Tom Watson said she
was the candidate he "would worry about" adding, “she's
the continuity candidate, she stands for Corbynism in its purest
went on to criticise her for not joining Labour Friends of Israel.
forgiveness for agreeing posthumously with
(Israeli) state idea is not according to my heart. I cannot
understand why it is needed. It is connected with many difficulties
and a narrow-mindedness. I believe it is bad.” Or
concede with sorrow that the baseless fanaticism of our people is in
part to be blamed for the awakening of Arab distrust. I can raise no
sympathy at all for the misdirected piety which transforms a piece of
a Herodian wall into a national relic, thereby offending the feelings
of the natives,” Perhaps
claim of the Jews to the Land of Israel cannot be a realistic
political claim. If all nations would suddenly claim territories in
which their forefathers lived two thousand years ago, this world
would be a madhouse,” or
Levi, writer and Auschwitz survivor: "Everyone
has their Jews. For the Israelis they are the Palestinians."
should also seek forgiveness on behalf ofMarek
Edelman, last surviving leader of the 1943 Warsaw uprising: who
a letter in support of the Palestine resistance, comparing them to
ZOB, the Jewish fighters in Warsaw. He opened with, "Commanders
of the Palestine military, paramilitary and partisan operations - to
all the soldiers of the Palestine fighting organisations,”And
there is of course Hannah
trouble is that Zionism has often thought and said that the evil of
antisemitism was necessary for the good of the Jewish people. In the
words of a well-known Zionist in a letter to me discussing the
original Zionist argumentation: 'The antisemites want to get rid of
the Jews, the Jewish State wants to receive them, a perfect match,'”
voice from the living,Noam
the Occupied Territories, what Israel is doing is much
worse than apartheid.”
has now reached the level of absurdity when these giants of our
political history are ignored or maligned and the rest of us must
bend the knee before criticising Israel.
father was one of the first Allied doctors to enter Bergen-Belsen
concentration camp. The photos he took there, and later showed me of
the skeletal prisoners, scarred my young mind. It was those haunting
pictures that led me to a lifetime of anti-fascism.
sixteen I had my first contact with real anti-semites. One Saturday
morning in Bromley High Street, thugs from the British Movement,
forerunners of Tommy Robinson's Britain First, and shouting “You bloody Yids”,
beat me up for selling Peace News. I discovered the
headquarters of the Zionist Federation and they gave me Star of David
badges. The following Saturday I, and a fellow pacifist wore these
badges and were beaten up again.
a member of the Anti-Nazi League in the 70s, I helped set up a
support and defence group in North West London for Asian shopkeepers
attacked by the National Front.
consider that I am in the proud tradition of anti-fascists, both Jews
of whom were or,
the first Jews who opposed Zionism were those who set up the Jewish
Bund in Poland and Russia. They stressed the principles of socialism,
secularism, Yiddish and doyikayt or “localness.” Doyikayt was
encapsulated in the Bund slogan: “There, where we live, that is our
country.” “We Bundists”, wrote one of their early leaders,
Viktor Alter, “wish to shatter the existing economic frameworks and
show the Jewish masses how a new society can be built not by escape,
but by struggle. We link the essence of the Jewish masses’ life to
that of humankind.”
contemporaries in this country can be found in Jews for Justice for
Palestinians, Jewish Voice for Labour and others.
Miller’s play, The
takes place in 1692 during the Salem witch trials. It
tells the story of a group
who accuse other villagers of witchcraft. The play was written as an
allegory during the McCarthy years and the House of Un-American
Activities trials in the 1950s. To be accused of being a member of
the Communist Part then ensured that jobs, reputations and, for some,
their lives, were lost.
mattered little whether the accusations were true or not.It
mattered even less that membership of the CP at that time was
evidence of radical political consciousness and not criminal
Salem trials are an attempt to mask
real anti-semitism that has always been at the heart of the British
started with poor Jeremy. “Now,
within living memory of the Holocaust, and while Jews are being
murdered elsewhere in Europe for being Jews, we have an anti-Semite
as the leader of the Labour Party” declared
the Chief Rabbi. He ommitted to add that one
of those countries where anti-semitism was
now rampant is Victor Orban’s Hungary. The
same Orban who was an honoured guest of the Netanyahu Israeli
our own country, the
Middle East Forum funded
fascist Tommy Robinson while he was in prison. In the words of their
Director, Gregg Roman, who has worked in Israel’s Defence and
Foreign Ministries, “we are helping Robinson in his moment of
danger in three main ways ... to fund his legal defence … bringing
foreign pressure on the UK government to ensure Mr. Robinson’s
safety and eventual release …”NOTE:
Robinson has recently joined
the Tory Party!
us take a closer look at the ancestry of Zionism. Their founder,
Theodor Herzl, an admirer of the British Empire wrote to Cecil
Rhodes, who gave his name to the white settler colony Rhodesia, about
his passion for a Jewish state in the Middle East, “You are being
invited to help make history … it does not involve Africa but a
piece of Asia Minor, not Englishmen but Jews … I turn to you …
because it is something colonial ..”
Weizmann, who suceeded Herzl, wrote to the Manchester Guardian:
“Should Palestine fall within the British sphere of influence and
should they encourage Jewish settlement … we could develop the
country, bring back civilisation and form a very effective guard for
the Suez Canal.”
to those Chrisian Evangelicals, Iran and the Middle East. Prayers at the opening of
the US Israeli Embassy in Jerusalem, were delivered by Robert
Jeffries, a Dallas megachurch pastor who said Hitler was sent by God
to drive the Jews to their ancestral land. A busy God who, Jeffries
assures us, was also standing over the shoulder of Donald Trump and
A lifetime of anti-fascism and anti-racism makes me
also anti-Zionist. If I was being beaten up today by those fascists
in Bromley Hight Street chances are that they and not me would be
wearing Star of David badges.
was good to hear his memories of being brought up in London (he and I
were born the same year). Kenin
Streatham and me further south in leafier Bromley. I have written
about him before and like and respect the man enormously.
has a “Pink Hat” - (OK let me repeat. My father said you can
always tell who is the honest politician, ‘the one wearing the pink
he was leader of the GLC,Margaret
Thatcher accused Ken of introducing an
European” style “tyranny”, for crimes such as lowering bus
fares and organising anti-racist celebrations. More recently he has,
with Jeremy Corbyn, been a victim of the right-wing
right-wing, as now represented by the current PM and politicians such
but certainly not pink, with
company accounts showingmore
over the last 5 years.
was a lot of discussion about the Labour Party leadership election
puzzled why he supports Keir Starmer on the basis that he is a good
‘administrator’ and is 'someone who looks like they can run the
discussion turned to whether Labour could win an election in five
years I mentioned that the French haven’t waited andhavebeen
on virtual generalstrike
for many weeks; that last week Macron, the French President, was
driven out of a theatre onto streets occupied by striking
in conclusion Vive La France and Vive Ken Livingstone. La lutte
is, after four years, still on sale online and in bookshops, but can
now be read for free